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New Mitchell High School plans taking shape

Plans coming for June meeting, project could go to bid as early as December, officials say

Mitchell High School
Mitchell High School has served the community for half a century.
Mitchell Republic File Photo
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MITCHELL — Plans for the new Mitchell High School are coming together, and the district hopes to take plans for the project to bid as early as December if all goes well, the Mitchell Board of Education heard at its most recent meeting Monday.

Joe Graves, superintendent for the Mitchell School District, said the pace is picking up for the project, and expects preliminary plans to be presented to the board June 13.

“We’re going to have some draft plans to present to the board at the June 13 board meeting that is coming up. Those are being prepared as we speak, and we’re constantly making changes. That’s part of the process,” Graves said.

The district has been putting funds away for the new building for a number of years. Resources for the work include the sale of capital outlay bonds for $24,484,988, the capital outlay reserves at $10 million and federal COVID-19 relief funds that can be put toward the project. All totaled, the district will have $40,905,840 available to replace the current high school on Capital Street.

It will be nice to finally have some plans to work with, Graves said, as the economic state of the country, inflation rates and the increased cost of construction labor and materials will require the district to be prudent in how it moves forward.

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“On all our projections going back the 10 years that we’ve been moving toward the project, that (amount) would have been more than sufficient,” Graves said. “But the construction market has gone crazy lately because of all the capital projects being pursued, which causes problems.”

To have options available, Graves said the district is also developing alternates to the plan that could help ease the impact of increased costs by possibly splitting up some of the overall project into sections. Any alternate plans would be elaborated on further at the June 13 meeting when initial plans are reviewed, he said.

“What do we absolutely have to have and what don’t we absolutely have to have? That’s being developed now,” Graves said. “That wouldn’t be reducing the building or cutting things out of it, it would just be done later.”

Graves said the planning process has been extensive and has included all current faculty members who wished to be involved, as well as members of the high school and district administration, the department of buildings and grounds, the food service department, the activities program, the technology department and the district business office.

The planning has been led by the architects on the project and informed by representatives of Puetz Design & Build, which is the construction management firm hired for the project. The planning process has included such issues as the site plan, classroom settings and square footage, suitable materials and budget.

“The planning committee has been meeting. Since that time we’ve been taking information forward and included Puetz Design, who has been at the table, and they will be able to give us feedback on what this is going to cost. We want to make sure we’re not proposing something beyond our means,” Graves said.

Shawn Ruml, a member of the board of education, asked if it is possible construction costs could go down if the economy improves in a year or two.

“Is the cost going to go up and up and up, or could it in two years be much cheaper?” Ruml asked.

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Graves said it was difficult to predict how the economy will change over the next couple of years, but it would take a large shift in current economic status before any significant drop in costs could be expected.

“We’d need some hard economic shock for prices to fall,” Graves said. “But I don’t think anyone really knows.”

Graves said if everything continues to move forward smoothly, the project could be taken to bids as early as December.

Steve Sibson, a member of the audience at the meeting, did express his concern about the funding of the project, notably that he believed the work could not be done without an increase in taxes.

The board took no action on the presentation.

2022-23 budget

The board also got another look at the 2022-23 district budget.

Steve Culhane, business manager for the Mitchell School District, said the board will vote on approval of the budget at its second meeting in June.

School Budget by Erik Kaufman on Scribd

At that meeting the board will consider approval of the general fund budget at $21,622,771, the capital outlay budget at $4,849,467, the special education budget at $5,282,364 and the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy budget at $472,336.

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The district food service budget will also be considered at $2,260,805.

The board took no action on the proposed budget at the Monday meeting.

Mitchell Technical College house

The board approved the sale of the Mitchell Technical College student-built house at a price of $449,500.

The legal description of the house is Lot One in Tract H, Wild Oak Golf Club Addition of the city of Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota. The buyers are Christopher and Tara Waters and the expected closing date is June 24.

The sale of the house was first pursued through a sealed bid process but no bids were received. The district then listed the home with a realtor and a purchase deal was reached with the new buyers.

The board approved the sale by unanimous vote.

Personnel

The board approved the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Mercia Schroeder, Spanish teacher at Mitchell Middle School and 6th class assignment, $49,653 teacher compensation, $4,966 6th class assignment compensation and Madison Miller, middle school oral interp, $495, both effective 2022-23 school year.
  • The new classified hire of Connor DeRouchey, CCC/computer aide, $12.75 per hour, 7.25 hours per day, effective Aug. 17.
  • The transfers of Taramee Paulson, paraprofessional at L.B. Williams Elementary to paraprofessional at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary and Charlene Hilekmeier, paraeducator at Longfellow Elementary 7 hours to paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary. Both transfers are effective for the 2022-23 school year.
  • The resignations of Kari White, food service at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective April 25; Nicole Hohn, RN at Mitchell Middle School, effective May 2 and Brooke Brummett, paraeducator at Mitchell High School, effective end of the 2021-22 school year.
  • The new Mitchell Technical College hires of Amy Gough, adjunct CCT 221 summer 2022, $2,250; Julie Gross, adjunct ENGL 110 summer 2022, $2,250; Julie Hart Schutte, adjunct SOC 100 summer 2022, $2,250; Sarah Ellis, adjunct COMM 210 and SPCM 101 summer 2022, $4,500; Anne Kelly, PSYC 101, summer 2022, $2,250; Scott Kortan, adjunct MATCH 104 summer 2022, $2,250; Annika Russell-Manke, adjunct BUS 122 summer 2022, $2,250; Ryan Van Zee, adjunct BUS 170 summer 2022, $3,000 and Shirlyce Weisser, adjunct MOP 221, MOP 230 summer 2022, $4,500. All hires are effective May 16.
  • The Mitchell Technical College resignation of Connie Schroeder, director, effective June 30.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Reviewed and revised Mitchell Technical College policy series 1000-1200 on second reading.
  • Declared several items at Mitchell Technical College as surplus.
  • Reviewed the elementary handbook for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Heard board member reports.
  • Heard the superintendent report.

The next meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, June 13 at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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